According to national and international legislation, asbestos may not be removed, transported or be disposed of by regular construction companies or property owners. Legislation prescribes a whole process to get rid of unwanted and hazardous asbestos.
Air Monitoring, Testing and Sampling
Before asbestos removal can begin, it is important for asbestos testing and sampling to be done. This has to be done by a registered Approved Asbestos Inspection Authority (AAIA). It is also the responsibility of the AAIA to compile a workplan for the removal of the asbestos and submit it to the Department of Labour for approval.
What is Air Monitoring?
Air monitoring means that the air within and enclosed area is sampled and tested for airborne asbestos fibres. Air monitoring usually takes place before, during and after asbestos is removed. A site will only be ‘cleared’ by the AAIA once it is safe for people to inhabit the area, which means that the level of airborne asbestos fibres must be within the prescribed legal range.
It is a requirement by law that all asbestos removal contractors are registered with the Department of Labour as per Regulation 21 of the Asbestos Regulations, 2001.
The first step in the removal process is an assessment of the site by an asbestos removal company such as Asbestos removal and Roofing.
The next step is that the Approved Asbestos Inspection Authority (AAIA) visits the site and compiles a work plan. The work plan must be submitted to and approved by the Department of Labour before work can commence. The approval process can take up to ten working days.
According to legislation, employees involved in removing and disposing of asbestos must complete an asbestos removal training course once a year at an authorised training facility, undergo annual medical screening and have lung X-rays every three years – (training and medical clearance certificates are only valid for one year). Everyone who enters a site where asbestos is removed has to wear protective face masks and workers have to wear the appropriate protective clothing (PPE), to safeguard them from inhaling or ingesting hazardous asbestos fibres.
It is also required by law that specific “Asbestos Warning” signage is displayed on sites where asbestos is being removed.
Transport of Asbestos
Asbestos can only be transported and disposed of by registered asbestos contractors such as Asbestos Removal and Roofing. There are strict rules for transportation of asbestos prior to disposal. Damaged and cracked asbestos-containing products must be adequately wetted and wrapped in heavy duty plastic.
Where fragments are small enough, it should be placed in smaller heavy duty plastic bags and secured with cable ties. Wetting asbestos helps prevent microscopic fibres becoming airborne when transported.
Disposal of Asbestos
There are prescribed asbestos disposal sites in South Africa. To name but one example – Cape Town’s asbestos-containing waste is disposed of by the City of Cape Town in accordance with applicable legislation at a landfill site called Vissershok. This is a trenched, co-disposal low-hazard (H:h) landfill operation.
When arriving at Vissershok to dispose of asbestos-containing materials, the removal / disposal company has to have the correct documentation and permission before being allowed to dispose of any hazardous asbestos material.